The greatest literary virtue of the Trinidad-born writer VS Naipaul, who has died aged 85, was instant readability. He constructed clear, irreducible sentences, and marshalled them into single-minded paragraphs. His control of language and the rhetoric of his novels were such that he could persuade you into belief even when his truths were only partly true. Naipaul, the winner of the 2001 Nobel prize for literature, was regarded by many as the greatest novelist of his time. In his early fictions he trusted description, character, dialogue and event to evoke the world that had shaped him. Beneath the comedy and the almost kindly satire of these early works there are glimpses of the bleak view of human existence and effort and self- fictionalising that were to become the key themes and motifs of his later work. The first of his 14 non-fiction works, The Middle Passage (1962), was a lively if unsparing report on West Indian societies as “half-made societies that seemed doomed to … [Read more...] about VS Naipaul obituary
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Ailing mobster Peter Gotti believes he's on death's door, his lawyer has said, as he made the sixth appeal for the 80-year-old's release in just one month. With 12 years left of a 25-year sentence, Gotti 'is increasingly difficult to understand on the phone' and 'his voice is weak, labored and very faint' according to the Tuesday filing which mentioned death rates at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina are at an 'all-time high'. 'We pray Peter Gotti won't be next on that list, but these cases are very sad and very real,' James Craven wrote in the court papers which claimed doctors believed Gotti should be allowed home. 'Peter Gotti has a loving home to go too, with his daughter in Howard Beach, New York. He has served over 80 percent of his sentence and is dying. May he get there in time.' Peter Gotti (pictured 2002) 'is increasingly difficult to understand on the phone' and 'his voice is weak, labored and very faint', according to his lawyer Peter Gotti's … [Read more...] about Ailing mobster Peter Gotti, 80, asks for compassionate release 12 years early for the sixth time in one month because he’s afraid anything could kill him at North Carolina prison where death rates are ‘at an all time high’
A little over a year after coming to power, Emmanuel Macron is turning out to be just another run-of-the-mill disappointing French president. Like his predecessors, he has seen his popularity nosedive among his political base. This “Jupiter”, who embodied newness, youth and modernity, is now bogged down in forced reshuffles and goings-on that look very much like old-fashioned political manoeuvrings. Worse, despite claiming he would lead France to become the “start-up nation”, economic performance is poor. Growth is stagnant, unemployment isn’t falling and poverty is taking a firm hold. The disappointment is all the more acute because of the expectations Macron raised among those who rejected populism in favour of a candidate who both stood for good sense and could run the economy. This turn of events isn’t just worrying for Macron, it’s worrying for those in Europe’s pro-globalisation camp who placed their faith in him to halt the wave of … [Read more...] about Trump’s poll ratings are better than Macron’s, after a year. Why?
More than 4 million people watched 12 Years a Slave win best film at the Baftas on Sunday, but it could not hit the audience heights of last year's awards. BBC1's The British Academy Film Awards attracted an average of 4.6 million viewers, a 22% share, between 9pm and 11pm, the ceremony's lowest ratings since 2010 and a fall on last year's 10-year high of 5.4 million (23.9). With 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor and Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett picking up the leading actor gongs, the Baftas' audience was its lowest since 3.6 million watched four years ago. Last year the Baftas were beaten by ITV's Jeremy Piven drama Mr Selfridge and this year was no different, the department store drama racking up 4.8 million viewers (20.3%) between 9pm and 10pm. Supporting overnights prize Elsewhere, BBC1's teatime PG Wodehouse adaption Blandings returned with 3.6 million viewers, a 16.5% share, between 6.30pm and 7pm, down 36% on the channel's three month slot average. Top Gear powered ever … [Read more...] about Baftas 2014: more than 4 million watch 12 Years a Slave win best film
Writer and editor Diana Athill, whose clear eye on life and literature inspired authors and readers alike, has died aged 101. The news was confirmed by the publisher Granta. Athill combined a glittering career in publishing, where she worked with writers including Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul, with award-winning success as an author herself, turning her flinty gaze on love, work and approaching death in memoirs including Instead of a Letter, Stet and the Costa biography prize-winning Somewhere Towards the End. Born during a Zeppelin raid on London in 1917, Athill studied English at Oxford and worked for the BBC Overseas Service during the second world war, before helping André Deutsch found Allan Wingate in 1946, and five years later the publishing house that bore his name. For the next five decades, the imprint gathered acclaim and struggled for cash as Athill worked with writers including Marilyn French and John Updike. Being an editor was for the most … [Read more...] about Diana Athill, writer and editor, dies aged 101